Oh, Frell this. I’m done. (Also, Postmortem.)

Posted by (twitter: @crowbeak)
April 28th, 2013 6:09 pm

Frustration in my title? Why yes. I got my game done in less than 12 hours on Saturday and then proceeded to spend all day yesterday completely unable to get it to compile into .exe format.

Muh-muh-muh-MY POTATO

 

Expectations

This was my second Ludum Dare. I went into LD25 in December with no ability to do graphics or sound and came up with a text-interface simulation game with which I was very, very happy. I went into LD26 confident that I could succeed, as I had done so before with no clue what I was really getting into, and with the ability to make graphics a thing that would happen. I also went in feeling like having the ability to do graphics wasn’t necessarily a good thing — I’d come up with something so unique last time because I’d had few options. Could I pull that off twice, or would having graphics at my disposal result in an inferior game?

Dat Theme

Minimalism?!

It didn’t seem like a bad theme… my objection to it and the reason I voted it down every time I saw it was because it was too close to a previous theme, Minimalist. I hadn’t at all thought about what I might do if this theme was chosen, and so I started out LD26 making my Twitch viewers watch me read up on Minimalism on Wikipedia. I came up with several ideas and discarded them all because they either weren’t unique enough or didn’t look like they’d be fun.

But the real issue I was having, the reason I had trouble with coming up with an idea, was that I know nothing of Minimalism. I didn’t have enough information floating around in my head to make it work. LD25’s theme, You are the Villain, jived with me quite well. I consider myself to be something of a connoisseur of fine villains; a good villain can make a story and a bad one can break it. Combined with my studies in Sociology and remembering a board game a friend of mine had told me about ages before, I quickly had an idea. This time, though, I struggled.

One idea that stuck in my head was that of a minimalist potato in the form of a simple brown oval with human eyes on it instead of a potato’s normal eyes (English-centric, I know; please forgive me, non-native speakers). Whatever game I did, that was something I wanted in it. Eventually I decided to make that potato the focal point of the game. I wanted the eyes to be interactive with the player somehow, and in the end I thought of, “Stick a needle in my eye,” from some children’s rhyme and this game was born.

It wrote itself for the most part, and with minimalism as the theme I didn’t have to spend too much time on art. I’d been all prepared to use my decent drawing skills that I only realized I had last weekend, but it wasn’t really necessary. The coding was fairly straightforward and went well. The game even told me how to make itself more fun… a bug turned out to make the game far more fun than I’d originally planned, so I went into the code and started shaping it around that idea on purpose.

In the end, I found myself with something playable and mildly amusing, but not spectacular. Indeed, I am happier with my game from LD25. I’m not unhappy with this game, though, and I’m pleased with the fact that making the game took me less than 12 hours, including spending two hours agonizing over what to make.

Time Zones and Twitch

I am in Japan. That means that LD26 started at 11:00 AM on Saturday for me. This has its advantages and disadvantages. The most notable disadvantage, I think, is that the competition carries on into Monday. This time, my work was not impacted as Monday is a federal holiday in Japan, but I learned in LD25 that I really should request LD Monday off. As advantages go, starting in the middle of the day means that I get two full sleep periods at normal times with a chance on that final morning to do any last minute stuff with a fresh mind. Even though that’s an advantage I haven’t needed for LD26, it’s still there and will continue to be as long as I have this job.

I streamed Saturday on Twitch, from right after I got dressed (people got to watch me make breakfast and stuff — testing the stream and getting pysched, wot wot) until I was done with programming for the day. This was fine, though when LD26 started, I found myself feeling pressured to make my whole thinking process available to the people watching my stream. I feel like that was stress I didn’t need with an unfamiliar topic as the theme and I am not sure if I will stream the start of LD again next time.

Building .EXE Files

I got Pyinstaller working for LD25. It will not work this time. I spent all day Sunday trying to get it to work, on Mac OSX and Windows 7, with no success. It will not import pyglet into the game no matter what I do on either OS. Py2app fared no better and didn’t tell me why it was having trouble, so I abandoned it pretty quickly.

This has been extremely frustrating, not the least because I know the game will be played less if it can only be played from source. At this point, however, it would be a waste of energy to keep caring.

Takeaways

  • Expect the unexpected.
  • Take your time figuring out the theme if you’re unfamiliar with it.
  • Consider not thinking about the theme while livestreaming.
  • Check your .exe builder programs with the libraries you intend to use during warmup weekend instead of assuming it will work smoothly.

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